Ali is a 25 year old Iranian illustrator and cartoonist who sought asylum in Australia and was taken to Manus Island where he has been held in the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre (MIRPC) for 2 years and 9 months.
Ali has a history of anxiety identified from the age of 8 and with a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) made 4 years before he fled Iran. As noted in his IHMS mental health notes, Ali has a personal history of trauma and torture. Doctors who have assessed his medical records share the opinion that Ali is the subject of prior trauma that caused him to seek asylum.
The same doctors are also of the opinion that his condition has been exacerbated by the lack of adequate care, the prison-like conditions on Manus Island and further victimisation within the MIRPC, including serial sexual assaults. As a consequence, his condition has patently deteriorated.
All previous attempts to liaise with IHMS and Border Force through Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Brayley in order to seek help for Ali have failed, despite medical practitioners familiar with the case stating that he requires immediate assistance for severe OCD, Complex PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) with dissociation and somatisation, and panic attacks.
We now call for Ali to be immediately evacuated to Australia in order bring a halt to the continuing sexual assaults and for Ali to receive the necessary support for recovery.
Psychiatric and psychological reports held in Ali’s IHMS Clinical Records 08/08/2013-01/07/2016 indicate that Ali had been groomed by some detainees and guards and that the escalation of his panic attacks, his ongoing urinary incontinence, loss of memory, increasing nightmares, increasing somatised pain and the all consuming state of OCD symptoms (such as scrubbing out his eyes with soap, obsessive washing and bathing for hours because of a sense of being contaminated and infected, not eating or drinking etc.) are a result of increasing unwanted touch, innuendo and sexual assault – especially since May 2015. Throughout this time Ali was belittled and his health conditions minimized by centre guards and medical staff.
Responses by IHMS staff and other stakeholders in the detention centre to Ali’s reporting of ‘unwanted touching’, bullying and sexual assaults are characterised by practices of victim-blaming, minimisation, disbelief, frustration and withdrawal of support. Instead of acting to end these assaults, authorities have focused on Ali’s need to build assertive skills, taking more responsibility for his conditions through self-help and telling people he does not want sex. One of his case manager’s suggests ‘mediation’ with some of his sexual harrasers!
Dr Joanne Holdaway, Medical Director Mental Health IHMS, assessed Ali on 20/03/2016 writing that she would speak with the CMO of Border Force regarding Ali’s placement. Since then Ali has remained in the MIRPC and continues to be assaulted.
Ineffective actions such as placing Ali in SAA with guards affords him little safety and he continues to be subject to and report ongoing sexual assaults and harassment from guards as well as other detainees.
At no time since Ali began reporting the sexual assaults has he been afforded safety; rather he has been put at constant risk of further assault. One of the last reports in the IHMS Clinical Records notes that the primary abuser of Ali remains in contact, ‘sneaking into the SAA area at night and also watching him from the adjacent phone area’ and ‘grabbing him around the waist’.
Such responses to sexual assault are anathema to current accepted practice and we are horrified at the ongoing trauma Ali continues to be subjected to. Ali must be brought to Australia, placed in a safe environment and afforded the specialist treatment he requires to survive the sexual assaults and to treat his exacerbated underlying conditions.
Ali’s case has caused concern amongst various groups including cartoonists in Australia and overseas through the Cartoonists Rights Network, with fellow well-known cartoonists drawing and publishing cartoons that speak to the violence that Ali endures.
We call on all organisations and professionals working against sexual violence and the continued degradation of the mental health of those incarcerated in our black sites to support this letter.
Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites
Professor Suvendrini Perera
Professor Joseph Pugliese
Dr Helen Driscoll MBBS FRANZCP
Dr Sue Ditchfield MBBS FRACGP
Media Sources on Ali’s case:
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|428||Mary Ann Hill||N/a||08/08/17|
|408||Tim Grice||Leapfrog International||10/09/16|
|407||Daryl Gibson||Manning Point||10/09/16|
|406||Leah Gibbs||University of Wollongong||10/09/16|
|402||Dr. E Aronson||05/09/16|
|401||Marie Feigl||Rural Australians for Refugees||04/09/16|
|396||Bill Stott||Chair, Professional Cartoonists' Organisation [UK]||03/09/16|
|395||Terry Anderson||Cartoonists Rights Network International||03/09/16|
|383||Anna Spinaze||Lower Snug||02/09/16|
|375||Bernadine Kelly||RAR Euroa||01/09/16|
|374||Maria Giannacopoulos||Flinders Law School||01/09/16|